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Week 5 Wrap-up: Learning and Loving

For most children, the value in a school day rarely comes from grand gestures or big moments. It comes from dozens of interactions with teachers and classmates, numerous encounters with information and tasks. As our schools try new ways to cultivate the relationships and intellectual growth that remain at the heart of what we do, we get a few glimpses into what school work and relationships mean to our students, our educators, and even to the parents who have new opportunities to observe them, like:

Ethan, a second grader from Sacred Heart singing a praise song–and taking special care to greet his teacher, Ms. Considine:


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Ethan from class 216 singing “Awesome God” to raise our spirits! Happy Wednesday!

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First grader Jaden from St. Athanasius, who reads the daily morning message Principal Jessica Aybar sends. In one activity, he is developing his literacy skills, deepening his understanding of Easter, and receiving the kind of encouragement we all need these days:

These morning messages from Mrs. Aybar extend beyond the few minutes students and parents read them, as they always invite students to engage in some way of extending the message. This week, she invited students to draw Easter eggs that honor the spirit of newness from this time in the Church year by including students’ prayers for what they hope to be new:


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Check out these Egg-celent drawings by Samir (G3), Jaden (G1), and Joseph (G3)!

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Art challenges at several schools are about more than just giving students something to occupy their time; they include chances to develop an artistic eye, such as the found object art challenge from St. Charles Borromeo, where students incorporate everyday objects into their art:

…and join in a trend happening around the world, of people recreating famous works of art:

Several art projects are focused on community-building, including this one at OLQA asking students to re-imagine the school logo:

The creativity parents, students and teachers are sparking in each other extends to the core learning that continues, as with this Sacred Heart 1st grader practicing spelling with Play-Doh:


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Check out Amy Guappi from 1-11 practicing her spelling with play doh!

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At the heart of these postings is the importance of being seen and recognized for students, and even for the parents who are heroically making learning happen amid so much else at home. The simple, crucial routine of recognizing each other is a highlight of the Instagram Live morning meetings that continue for St. Charles Borromeo. In this one, Principal Dan Faas maintains the routine of recognizing students’ and famous people’s birthdays by noting, “Ethan V–you are the most famous person who’s birthday I could find today. You and Leonardo da Vinci.”


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Tax Day Edition! ?

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Similarly, St. Mark’s morning meetings begin with greetings in the comments, and like “Way to Go Wednesdays” at several of our schools, include shout-outs to several students. In this one, Principal Dom Fanelli takes the opportunity to elevate the school’s core beliefs, such as “we are meant to constantly grow”–and names the current challenge students face of continuing to work hard when no one is watching.


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If you watch the whole meeting, you’ll notice that he weaves this emphasis on constant growth into a very practical, ennobling recognition of parents who have reached out to accept the school’s willingness to help in getting Chromebooks to students who need them.

While students and principals are naturally the most visible participants in much of what we see online, much of this joy and learning is propelled by two largely invisible groups: the parents who make sure the learning happens, and whose justifiable pride gets conveyed to us in the pictures they take; and teachers. Much of our teachers’ work is happening out of sight, on learning platforms and emails, and also in phone call after phone call, talking about learning but also simply connecting over the challenges, sorrows and graces of these strange days.

Teacher Allison McElligott joined in Immaculate Conception School’s virtual spirit week with her own kind of “found art,” celebrating the school with items at hand in her apartment, such as her tea mug:

As happens every day at school and will continue to happen, it is in these thousands of small gestures that our teachers create communities of learning and of warmth–and it is worth all of us raising our own glasses back at them today.